By: Ashley Thaba
Minutes trickled by painfully slowly. Hovering in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of the hospital, our eyes were glued on the door, jumping a little each time it opened in hopes it would be the pediatric neurologist with our son’s M.R.I. scans.
Finally, the doctor entered but requested we stay seated for a few moments while he debriefed the nurses. With hearts racing a mile a minute, we reminded ourselves to breathe as we awaited the news of what was going on with our 5 day old son. Once called, we entered into the room. My heart dropped. Why were there so many nurses? Why were they sniffling with tears dripping down their faces? Turning to the pediatric neurologist for answers, he put the first scan on the board and turned a light on behind it. He pointed to a white spot and told us that was a patch that had been damaged by lack of oxygen. The whole brain was covered in white patches and streaks! In shock, I asked “all of those white areas are hurt? That is the whole brain!” He sadly nodded yes confirming the horrifically widespread injuries.
He then pointed to what looked like black holes on the scan and explained those were hematomas, bad blood bruises. The subdural bleeding had knocked out the entire right frontal lobe and extended over the cerebellum and around into the occipital lobe. There was bleeding in the pituitary gland and in the back of the neck and… I couldn’t keep up with the report any longer. The bleeding was too much; the damage was too extensive. I dropped the pen and began to weep. Everyone was silent. I glanced up to see a tear roll down my husband’s face. Looking around at the group of nurses and doctors, eyes looked back at me full of despair and sympathy.
Taking a deep breath and trying to gather strength to speak, I faced the doctor. I choked out, “What caused this?” He looked into my eyes, as if asking himself if I could handle the truth. Hesitantly, he stated this was caused by Caleb’s traumatic delivery.
Then he said words I will never forget, “you went into labor with a healthy full term baby boy, but because of doctors’ mistakes, his life is changed forever and your son is now severely brain damaged.” My heart reeled with the understanding that this was preventable. Now sobbing, I broke down. Nurses comforted me and led me out of the room.
Surrounded by sterile hospital halls, I felt hopeless. Nurses rushed by attending patients. Parents walked by with blood shot eyes. The intercom boomed with loud announcements paging doctors to rush to the latest emergency. Screams of pain came from the children’s ward. Nothing breathed life or hope. Sickness and sadness suffocated me. Feeling trapped, I called out to God to rescue me. God’s words penetrated my bleak thoughts, turning me to His truths reminding me that even in the valley of the shadow of death, He was still with me.
Quietly He offered to take my burdens because He cared for me. Psalms 46:1-2 rang in my mind, God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear.
Suddenly, my mind rang with the guiding truth that would bring me peace; forgive the doctors. I seethed at the thought! Could I honestly ever do that? Maybe I could do it today, but what about in 5 years when Caleb couldn’t walk or talk? Every day I looked at him, I would remember their mistake that had cost him his standard of life? The Biblical story of Joseph came to mind. Maliciously, his brothers had sold him into slavery but at the end of his life, he tells them that what they did to harm him, God turned it into good to save many lives. Romans 8:28 came to mind: all things work together for the good of those who loved the Lord.
As I meditated on these truths, bitterness slipped away. Playing the blame game would do nothing to change the past or the future. It would just take my thoughts away from focusing on heaven and what its reality brought to my earthly existence. God loved me. God had a plan to prosper me and not to harm me. Somehow God would bring good out of this situation. My thoughts ran to John 9. A blind man was healed and Jesus was asked whose sin caused the man to be born blind. He responded that it was allowed so that the work of God might be displayed in that man’s life.
How would God get glory through my son’s brain damage? The biblical figures of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego flashed onto my mind’s screen. God could save them from the fire, but even if He didn’t, they wouldn’t bow down to the king of Babylon. God COULD heal Caleb, but even if He didn’t, I wouldn’t stop praising Him. I believed something good would come out of this, but even if that wasn’t exactly what I prayed for, it wouldn’t change God’s identity. He would still be the most powerful force in the Universe. He was the Creator of all six billion people inhabiting planet Earth. He still spoke light into darkness and held the keys to eternity. He still sent His son to die for me and He would always remain my best friend, worth of my worship. Songs of adoration slipped from my mouth as I remembered God’s command to give thanks in ALL circumstances. Beside the bed of my brain damaged son, God had brought me into His courts and ministered to me.
Years have passed since I put Caleb into God’s hands on that fateful day. God has miraculously healed Caleb and worked wonders in his life, amazing us and the doctors. In anger, many friends still blame the doctors. It is true that had Caleb been born with no complications, it would have saved us countless tears throughout the journey. Yet, we have learned valuable lessons we could have never gleaned from a Sunday morning message sitting comfortably on a church pew.
We learned that there is nothing we can’t get through when God gives us strength. We learned His power is greater in our weakness. All things DO work together for the good of those who love the Lord. He is faithful to take care of all our needs when we seek Him first. We discovered first hand that He will walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death! We learned the power of prayer, the power of God!
Would I have chosen different doctors had I known the future? Of course! But, do I have regrets? No! In God’s infinite wisdom, He knew this tragedy would draw me closer to Him and bring glory to His name. Without the tragedy, we never would have been able to testify that miracles still exist. Every night when I kiss my son goodnight, I am reminded that I am blessed to live with my miracle every day of my life.
About the author:I am a missionary in Botswana Africa. My husband and I are blessed to work with couples here in hopes of strengthening marriages in this country that is riddled with affairs, pre-marital sex and a high HIV+ rate. God has also given me a wonderful ministry to moms. In the past few years, God has lead countless mothers to come to me seeking advice on how to better parent their children. This lead me to start a Facebook page: Mom to Mom: Parenting Consultations.
God has also given me a tremendous ministry in this country after the local hospital almost killed my son in a negligent traumatic birth. He led me to publish a book, Conquering the Giants, which gained nation wide attention over here and has given me audiences all over the country. Through the attention gained by the book, I have been able to share the gospel and God’s message of forgiveness with parliament members and uneducated people in remote villages. Our deepest desire is that we can be a light in this nation and lead many families to Christ and that God would bless our family so that our family can bless other families.
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish to purchase a copy of my book, you can do so for $5.